Archive - January 2016

Alex & Afton Vintedge – Tyler, TX
The Vintage Contessa – Houston

Alex & Afton Vintedge – Tyler, TX

Alex & Afton Vintedge

5304 Old Bullard Rd.
Tyler, TX 75703
PH:(903) 617-8933
HOURS: Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday 11-5pm

Alex & Afton Vintedge Vintage Shop

Deep in the heart of East Texas…in the bustling small city of Tyler, lies the only vintage shop in town- Alex & Afton Vintedge. It’s nestled in a converted old single-story home off Old Bullard Rd., complete with white picket fencing. It’s not hard to miss, as the signage is as clear as day and there are mannequins and other eclectic items on the porch, beckoning customers to come in.

Caitlin Brax is the shop owner and the shop’s Instagram model. She’s that bohemian spirited, cool gal who can easily also be your best friend. Her passion for vintage started when she was in high school. While living in Los Angeles, she worked at an upscale boutique. Her clients would always want what she was wearing (vintage). So that (and her love of working retail) got her creative entrepreneurial juices flowing and she opened up an Etsy shop.

Upon moving back to Texas, she made it a goal to never work for someone (at least in the town she was living in at the time). She gathered up her and her mother’s vintage collections and opened up a space in February 2012. The space outgrew itself and she opened the current location of Alex & Afton on November 1, 2013. She named the shop after her sister and her’s middle names. Her inventory includes pieces from the 1950’s to early 2000’s, however she personally prefers the 60s, 70s and some 90s (not so much the acid wash, but more like the minimal, Calvin Klein slip dresses 90s). The curated collection is meant to be non-costume-y, rather more ‘cool girl’-pieces that one can easily blend into their current wardrobe. “It’s easy, it’s cool…it’s not work,” Caitlin also refers to her buying aesthetic as a little rock n’ roll, some glam and some bohemian.

She also carries her mother’s Mod Melrose collection. The brand’s name is in homage to her grandmother- Jean Melrose. What started out with only caftans (and quickly sold out), has now expanded with jackets, tops, dresses and turbans. Her mother uses vintage patterns and fabrics whenever possible. The Mother-Daughter duo wants to “blow open any limitations that they had put on themselves for 2016” in terms of the brand. They also do custom orders!

So switching gears to the present, when I took a detour to Tyler to check out the shop (which I believe I heard about through Instagram awhile back). When I arrived, Caitlin showed me the ropes of the shop and told me to make myself at home (which is one thing I enjoy when I shop small/local shops). I still can’t get over the dressing room/lingerie section, which is housed in the home’s original 1950’s PINK BATHROOM, complete with built-in vanity (I mean come on, can the kitsch get any better?!). The curated selection of vintage is definitely very wearable for today’s consumer. Some goods offered that stuck out were: Kilim-esque Southwestern style accessories, caftans, a denim bar, cozy sweaters and knits, wall-hangings and various bric-a-brac. This is such a great little shop that I could probably hang out in for hours and chatting fashion and playing dress-up. So why not take a little detour to Tyler sometime…

Caitlin is extremely thankful for all the support that she’s gotten. “We know all of our customers by name and if we don’t, we get to know them. It’s like a beauty shop in here and that’s so important… You can come in here and make yourself at home… I love what I do and I’m so grateful that I can do it. I’m not a millionaire but I can pay my rent and that’s really all i need (and the occasional wine and dog food).”

The Vintage Contessa – Houston

The Vintage Contessa

6222 Richmond Ave. #540
Houston, TX 77057
Mon- Thurs: 9-4:30, Fri- 9-noon…

The Vintage Contessa Houston TX

Imagine a website and showroom that sells only the best vintage and newer handbags, jewelry and accessories from the world’s most sought-after brands: Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Hermes and Cartier. Enter- The Vintage Contessa, owned by Donae Cangelosi Chramosta and her husband Rob. Awhile back, Donae worked for her family’s marble business. She would travel to Italy and France in search of not only marble, but fashion. After marrying Rob and while on their honeymoon in Portofino, she bought her first Hermes belt. Fast forward to when she was pregnant with her now eight-year-old daughter Bella, she was strolling down Madison Avenue with friends. They ventured into Hermes and it was there that she bought her first Birkin. She had always wanted one and had aspired to have that be one of her financial goals in life. It was not long after, that her husband’s jewelry and diamond friends were offering to buy the bag from her. That concept led her to start selling other bags, such as: Gucci and Louis Vuitton; later evolving into Chanel and Hermes as well. The newly-formed business was out of her passion and love for these coveted items.

The Vintage Contessa was launched in 2011. The name of the business was derived from her strong Italian heritage (her Grandparents emigrated from Sicily on a cattle boat and came through Ellis Island. Her Grandfather was a highly-skilled shoe cobbler.) Growing up, her nephews would always call her ‘princess’ and she thought that instead of using ‘princess’ or ‘queen,’ she thought that ‘contessa’ was a better fit.

So fast-forward to the end of 2015, when I had the pleasure of visiting the showroom one afternoon and found myself immersed in Hermes Birkin and Louis Vuitton Speedy bags. The showroom is a combination of Donae and her husband’s businesses. She mainly concentrates on the bags, some jewelry and accessories, while Rob sells watches, such as: Rolex, Cartier and Patek Philippe and designer jewelry like: Bulgari and Van Cleef and Arpels. The showroom features over thirty Birkin and Kelly bags, twenty/thirty Hermes bags, around one hundred Louis Vuitton and fifty Chanel bags. The oldest pieces in the showroom are a couple Louis Vuitton trunks date back to the 1890’s.

I really enjoyed my visit, as I was able to browse and take my time. The HUGE plus for me was when Donae said that I could actually get a Birkin from the shelf and hold it, etc. I mean seriously, who does that?! I know the Hermes retail store does not. Growing up, I’ve always seen and read about these bags in magazines, but to be able to actually HOLD and study the bags…just the icing on the cake! I also know that when I decide to buy my first vintage ‘Louie’ or ahem…Birkin… I will buy from Donae and Rob, because not only are they honest, kind folks running a small/local business, but they personally buy their vintage and newer inventory themselves from all over the world and they take pride in making sure that everything is 100% authentic.

To get more information (and to do some online shopping) on the boutique, go HERE. To purchase/get information on the book her co-wrote with her daughter called The Vintage Contessa and Princessa, go HERE. Be sure to also follow Rob via Instagram under “countdumoney.”

I love the pieces that transcend time, like the Chanel 2.55 bag, that was launched February 1955 and it’s still a bag in 2015… Another true test I believe for a great design is how sought after it is. No matter if a girl is 18 years old or 80 years old, she comes in and wants to carry a Chanel classic bag.”

– Donae Cangelosi Chramosta

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